“That’s certainly worth the $9 million,” said Hennessey High School senior Kaden Mitchell after touring the school’s under-construction Eagle Event Center Wednesday morning.
He and 30 other HHS seniors were told that’s the official name of the Dome by Superintendent Dr. Mike Woods. He made that announcement during Hennessey United’s weekly Leadership class.
“It's more than a gym. … it’s a tornado shelter,” Woods told students, and it came about after the 2013 Moore school tornado.
He said there will be no more “who has the key to the shelter?” questions. The front doors into the Eagle Event Center will automatically open and the lights will come on when there is an alert signal from the National Weather Service about a tornado.
He told students that voters had to approve a bond issue by 60% for the building and property owners in the school district pay for in their taxes.
School patrons approved a $15.49 million bond issue in April 2017, with $10.59 million allocated to construct the Dome.
Woods had construction stopped while the Leadership students toured the facility. They were the first students allowed on the property during the construction phase.
“It's big enough that we can even have concerts here,” he said.
Seniors in that class are also in a civics class taught by Brady Page, boys basketball coach.
Page made the tour with his students, and said he hadn’t wanted to see the facility until it was completed. “But I’m so glad I did!”
One of Page’s players, Angel Rodriquez, looked surprised when Woods said there would be seating for 1,700.
Then he asked: “Did he say the court would run north and south?”
Yes, and gigantic screens – a 10-by-32-foot screen at the south end and a smaller seven-by-10-foot screen at the north end – will show “real time” play.
The scoreboards will be controlled from an iPad and will display the scores, shot clock and live videos in a split screen.
Hector Hernandez asked if the Eagle Event Center would be ready in time for their graduation in May.
Woods said it will be ready for basketball season. The plan was for it to be ready for the first home basketball game, he said, but due to bleachers not getting in until November that has pushed it back.
“It looks smaller on the inside than it does from the outside,” said another student after Woods said the two-story facility contains 33,000 square feet.
“No one else has a dome-shaped building this size,” Woods told students.
There are four sets of locker rooms, he pointed out. Hennessey’s are on the west side and the visitor’s on the east side.
There are coach’s offices and training rooms and a walking track on the second floor with administration offices on the west side of the first floor.
Students were surprised to learn the second floor could also be reached by an elevator.